Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Best Films of 2016 (so far) - Part II

Earlier this week I unveiled the first half of my list highlighting the best movies so far this year. If you haven't seen or read PART I, I recommend doing so before you go continue on. Now, if you're caught up with all of my films #6 through #10 and honorable mentions, then here they are, my top five movies so far this year:

If you're seeking one of the most fun and entertaining crime-comedies of the year, look no further than Shane Black's The Nice Guys. As the director of the cash-printing superhero success Iron Man 3, Black trades his Marvel credentials for a return to his buddy-comedy roots. His career in the industry launched with writing credits on the first and second Lethal Weapon films only to earn his directorial debut with 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Needless to say, Black's return to his roots goes very well as Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star as a misfit pair who team up to solve the mystery of a missing girl and her connection to the apparent suicide of a porn star. The most surprising attribute of the film is its non-stop hilarity that helps guide the audience through its slightly prolonged story. The Nice Guys is a wildly engaging ride that's most likely destined for a sequel. 

#4. The BFG

While I openly admit that I'm not the kindest of critics when it comes to children's flicks, even I was surprised by how captivated I was by Steven Spielberg's The BFG. Being familiar with the story, Spielberg doesn't only capture the essence of Roald Dahl's classic children's tale, he also brings it to life with his singular filmmaking vision. The visuals are spectacular and even newcomer Ruby Barnhill gives a fine performance as Sophie. The BFG struggled throughout its theatrical run, but don't be fooled. Steven Spielberg has a wonderful track record of delivering exceptional youth-based stories and that trend continues here. The film had me completely entranced with its stunning CGI, blissful familiarity and wholesome humor. In my opinion, The BFG was even better than advertised.

One of 2016's most impressive films also happens to an overlooked diamond in the rough. I had the distinct pleasure of catching Atom Egoyan's indie revenge drama, Remember, at the 2015 Philadelphia Film Festival. And even with all of the festival's many Oscar recognized features, Remember was one of the few that left a lasting impression. Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer stars as Zev Guttman, an elderly widower experiencing the beginning stages of dementia. And when he's reminded by a fellow wheel-chair bound resident (Martin Landau) at the retirement home of their days together in Auschwitz, Zev escapes the building and seeks to find the prison guard who murdered both of their families. Even through Remember's minimal 95 minute running time there are a few brief lulls. However, an unforgettable finale makes the entire viewing experience more than worth it. Remember is one marvelously acted and brilliantly written indie film that you shouldn't miss!

As a longtime and vocal fan of director David Mackenzie, I was anxious to see his Cannes film festival selection, Hell or High Water. And after finally having a chance to view the film, I highly recommend that you catch it before its current theatrical run comes to an end. Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as a pair of bank robbing brothers set to hold possession of their deceased mother's land in Texas. But as a nearly-retired sheriff (Jeff Bridges) closes in on the siblings, something has to give. This modern day western offers a nostalgic feel, fully equipped with well developed characters and perfect amounts of humor and action. Hell or High Water unravels beautifully and even a bit unconventionally. Quite a bit of the story remains to be told even after the film's climax. Yet, its all necessary and its all worthwhile. Any fans of the western genre are guaranteed to love the film, but I personally believe Hell or High Water can be enjoyed by just about anyone. See it while it's still in theaters, if you can.

And finally, my top film so far in 2016 belongs to the brilliant indie and Sundance selected feature, Captain Fantastic. Matt Ross delivers an unbelievably artistic and touching story of a mother and father (Viggo Mortensen) who are fed up with the way of the modern world. As a result, the highly independent couple ventures deep into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest and build their own paradise where they live off the grid and provide a self sufficient lifestyle where they raise their six children. Not only is the film's main story gripping and insightful, all of the film's many subplots tackle interesting perspectives on the social consequences of this family's decision to raise their children in this environment. Captain Fantastic succeeds by forming a unique bond between the audience and the entire family. Humor and emotions run rampant throughout the film and mold together perfectly to create a mesmerizing journey of self discovery. Captain Fantastic is the type of movie that makes you feel a wide assortment of emotions, and those films are the best kind.

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